In early 2017 Curious Legends & Newcastle Region Library collaborated to explore the hidden history of Newcastle. Community participants throughout Newcastle worked with our core team of 8 professional artists to bring an inspiring outdoor theatre performance to life. This was a large scale performance that took place in Newcastle’s Civic Park on May 5th, 2017. Multimedia projection, lantern puppets, Aboriginal dreamtime stories, maritime battles, ghosts, and spirit birds featured in the show.

The creation process was highly collaborative. Basing our initial explorations on images from the Newcastle Region Library’s archives, we created this website to launch the project. Community participants throughout Newcastle then took part in a writing and photography competition to help us gather materials for the show. For a list of winning entries to the Hidden Port Competition, go HERE.

5 local primary schools were involved in the creation and development process of this show. This included Islington, Mayfield East, Carrington, Hamilton, and Tighes Hill Public Schools. Much of the materials they gathered ended up in the performance, including a ghost story from Hamilton, stories about bicycles from the BHP era, and a fictional diary entry from the Newcastle Earthquake. As the show grew closer, different schools took on different areas to develop – Tighes Hill created shadow puppets with Artists Debbie Dates & Connor Fox, students from Hamilton made cane bicycles with maker Ross Brown, and Islington created the entire soundscape for the performance in collaboration with musician Zackary Watt!

The Hidden Port Performance included strong indigenous imagery and stories. Worimi Artist Auntie Debbie Dates provided stories about Throsby Creek from her family’s heritage, then worked with maker Conor Fox to create a digital narrative for the performance. The show was bookended with Aboriginal imagery, including a ‘spirit pelican’ which formed one of the themes to the show. The performance itself was opened with a traditional welcome from the Worimi Nation by Auntie Jay, together with a dance performance by the Bloodline Sister Girls.

Using a space through Renew Newcastle, community participants joined professional artists from Curious Legends & Sydney based studio IKARA to create fish lanterns, cover our ships, and finish our submarine. Finally, 3 open rehearsals with community members took place in Civic Park in the lead up to the performance. The final event drew in a crowd of over 400 people, and involved 50+ community participants joining in the performance.

For more information about the Hidden Port Performance, go HERE. For an overview of the project from Curious Legends Artistic Director Mitchell Reese, go HERE.

Artist Ross Brown with a ‘School of Fish’


This project has been generously supported by: